-Rep Younquoi Worries Over Constitutional crisis
By Reuben Sei Waylaun
Following the postponement of the by-elections in Montserrado and Bong Counties by the National Elections Commission (NEC) due to lack of funding, the chairman of the House of Representatives’ committee on Good Governance says Liberia is in constitutional crisis.
Nimba District Eight Representative, Larry P. Younquoi
Addressing legislative reporters Thursday, Representative Larry Younquoi said it was not appropriate for the NEC and those in the executive to postpone the by-elections without consulting the National Legislature.
“As a chairman on Good Governance, it is not advisable to proceed that way. There is constitutional crisis here,” he said.
According to the veteran Nimba County lawmaker, the President would have been informed by vibrant opposition political parties that this is not the right way to proceed.
“They will say we don’t do this and we are not happy with this decision. I don’t know what the Advisors to the President on Economic affairs and political affairs told him,” he added.
He said with such grave situation, it is better to tell the people of Bong and Montserrado Counties to disregard the by-elections due to the constitutional crisis since it is difficult to tell the President to resign.
He reminded Liberians especially those in the executive branch of government that the constitution was written to be obeyed.
Article 37 of the Liberian Constitution states, “In the event of a vacancy in the Legislature caused by death, resignation, and expulsion or otherwise, the presiding officer shall within 30 days notify the Elections Commission thereof.
The Elections Commission shall not later than 90 days thereafter cause a by-election to be held; provided that where such vacancy occurs within 90 days prior to the holding of general elections, the filling of the vacancy shall await the holding of such general elections.
The NEC Tuesday, May 8, 2018 through its chairman Cllr. Jerome Korkoyah said the NEC would not be able to conduct the upcoming by-election in both Montserrado and Bong Counties due to the lack of funding for the process.
“It will not be possible to do the by-elections within both Montserrado and Bong Counties within the constitutional time frame of ninety (90) days and this is as a result of financial reason,” chairman Korkoyah revealed.
Chairman Korkoyah stated that the three point nine million United Stated dollars (US$3.9m) budget submitted to central government by the NEC for the conduct of the by-elections, it was reduced to two point seven million United States dollars (US$2.7M) by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP).
Cllr. Korkoyah indicated that out of the reduced two point seven million United States dollars (US$2.7M) the government of Liberia has noted that it would only be able to provide one point eight million United Stated dollars (US$1.8M).
The NEC boss revealed that up to present, the government has only been able to make available the total of five hundred thousand United Stated dollars (US$500,000), an amount the NEC chairman terms as grossly in adequate to conduct the by-elections.
However, Representative Younquoi said for a seated government to be involved in such is ‘unfortunate’.
Nationally, there are 2.1 million registered voters. Of this figure, Montserrado has 778,291, while Bong has 208,123. The combined total of registered voters in the two counties (Bong and Montserrado) is 986,414 or 45 percent of the total registered voters in Liberia.
The two counties have a total of 2,292 polling places with 1,790 of these in Montserrado County and Bong County accounting for 502. This represents a total of 43 percent of the total number of 5,390 polling places in Liberia.
In a related development, Representative Younquoi has announced that they had obtained fifty signatures which will be equivalent to two-third majority for the census to be conducted in November 2019.
According to the Liberian Constitution, census is intended to be conducted every ten year.